Leg pain is not only frustrating to deal with, it’s also disruptive of everyday activities. It makes mundane activities such as getting dressed, commuting to work, and running errands uncomfortable. If you’re an athlete, it makes doing your activity of choice unbearable – which can be quite disheartening if you’ve been training for a specific event.
If you’ve been experiencing pain when walking or standing, do you know what caused it? And, what can you do to promote healing as soon as possible?
The 10 Most Common Causes of Leg Pain
Tendonitis is an ailment that happens either from overuse, aging, or certain conditions such as diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis. If you frequently have to do the same motions with the same body parts, the tendons in that area will become irritated and/or suffer from small tearing. In addition to pain, you may also experience stiffness of the joint and a limited range of motion.
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition that causes the cartilage between your joints to wear down. If it affects your hips or knees, standing up and walking will become painful, as your bones rub against each other with these movements. In addition to pain, you can actually feel the bones rubbing together. It’s also common to hear a cracking sound when you move.
This condition occurs when fluid-filled sacs between the joints become inflamed. It can happen from an injury, infection, or from repetitive activities. In addition to pain, symptoms of bursitis include tenderness, swelling, and skin that feels warm to the touch.
4. Lumbar spinal stenosis
The lumbar spine (lower back) has five vertebrae, each separated by soft discs that allow movement. Sometimes, due to injury or aging, these discs bulge out, narrowing the spinal canal. When this occurs, they can compress the nerves that travel down to your legs. This is known as lumbar spinal stenosis. In addition to pain, symptoms include numbness in the buttocks or legs or cramping when walking.
5. Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (MTSS)
Commonly known as shin splints, this condition refers to pain below the knee and is often experienced by runners, dancers, tennis players, and people in the military. Just as with stress fractures, athletes who fail to increase the intensity or length of their workouts gradually are prone to this type of injury. Symptoms include soreness and pain along the inner side of the shins, as well as swelling of the lower leg.
6. Stress fracture
A stress fracture is a hairline break in the bone. It’s often experienced by athletes who suddenly increase the intensity or length of training, or who don’t take enough rest time to allow their body to fully recover from workouts. Pain decreases — and sometimes even disappears — when you’re resting; only to start again when you resume training.
7. Osgood-Schlatter Disease
Despite its name, Osgood-Schlatter disease is not an actual illness, but irritation and swelling of the growth plates above the shin bones. Growth plates are the softest portions of the skeleton in growing children and adolescents, and it’s where most bone growth happens. It’s also the weakest part of the skeleton, and therefore, at a higher risk of injury. Osgood-Schlatter Disease is more likely to occur during growth spurts – when the bones, muscles, and tendons can grow at different rates.
8. Achilles tendon rupture
The Achilles tendon connects the calf muscles to the heel bone. It’s the largest tendon in the human body. When it’s stretched beyond its capacity, it can suffer from partial or complete tears. This type of injury is most common when landing after a jump, abrupt pivoting, or a sudden increase in speed when running. A telltale sign of an Achilles tendon rupture is the inability to bend your foot downward or to push off the injured foot when you try to walk.
9. Peripheral Artery Disease
Also known as PAD, peripheral artery disease occurs when arteries in your legs become narrowed due to the accumulation of fatty deposits. As a result, your legs receive less blood circulation, resulting in pain, cramping, and numbness. People with PAD also tend to have cold lower legs or feet.
10. Blood clots
Blood clots occur when platelets in the blood stick together. This is a life-threatening condition since it obstructs blood flow to the heart and brain. Symptoms include pain, red skin, swelling of the affected leg, and skin that feels warm to the touch. The condition is more likely to occur in people who are overweight or obese, smoke, have a blood clotting disorder, or have had a long period of bed rest.
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